Mordecai in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE
mor'-de-ki, mor-de-ka'-i (mordekhay; Mardochaios): An
Israelite of the tribe of Benjamin, whose fate it has been
to occupy a distinguished place in the annals of his people.
His great-grandfather, Kish, had been carried to Babylon
along with Jeconiah, king of Judah (Est 2:5-6). For nearly
60 years before the scenes narrated in Esther, in which
Mordecai was greatly concerned, took place, the way to
Israel had been open to the Israelites; but neither his
father, Jair, nor afterward himself chose to return to the
ancient heritage. This seems to have been the case also with
the rest of his house, as it was with the vast majority of
the Israelite people; for his uncle died in Persia leaving
his motherless daughter, Hadassah, to the care of Mordecai.
Employed in the royal palace at Susa, he attracted, through
the timely discovery of a plot to assassinate the king, the
favorable notice of Xerxes, and in a short time became the
grand vizier of the Persian empire. He has been believed by
many to have been the author of the Book of Esther; and in
the earliest known notice of the Feast of Purim, outside of
the book just mentioned, that festival is closely associated
with his name. It is called "the day of Mordecai" (2 Macc
15:36). The apocryphal additions to Esther expatiate upon
his greatness, and are eloquent of the deep impression which
his personality and power had made upon the Jewish people.
Lord Arthur Hervey has suggested the identification of
Mordecai with Matacas, or Natacas, the powerful favorite and
minister of Xerxes who is spoken of by Ctesias, the Greek
historian. Few have done more to earn a nation's lasting
gratitude than Mordecai, to whom, under God, the Jewish
people owe their preservation.